A quick 40 minutes north of NYC, Harriman State Park has an eclectic little campground called Beaver Pond. The grounds are just steps away from Welch Lake, offering a lifeguard monitored sandy beach which is open during the summer season for swimming, fishing, and small boat craft further out.
“Welcome to Bear Mountain” grumbles the park ranger as he sits in complete darkness! He is in his ranger hut, checking in the late evening arrivals to the campground. It’s totally dark inside, lit only by the glow of the outside lamps. The atmosphere is complete with spider webs covering the walk up window, and I swear I saw a black widow doppelgänger . He’s nice, but you can tell he’s given this welcome speech too many times to get overly excited about it. He offers us a highlighted map to our site, wishes us a good stay, and gives us the run down on bear activity in the area. I mean, we are in Bear Mountain, what do you expect?!?
The campground offers several different sties, from platform tent spaces to those for 25’ trailers. All sites have a standard picnic table and fire ring. Our site is a trailer site, it’s perfect for the trusty old pop-up, and feels nice and roomy. Although no site offers electric or water hook up, camp amenities include: a moderately stocked store, public bath houses, a laundry facility, playground for the kids and camp-sinks with access to water.
Offering the peaceful tranquility of sitting under the changing oak, sumacs, maples, and poplars, I wouldn’t recommend this site for the quiet hearted. There is a constant buzz in the air of conversation, music, laughter and shrieking toddlers. Quiet time at night is laughable as the enjoyment of being in nature rages on into the early morning. I myself could go either way; I’m not overly bothered by the late nights and chorus of noise, but living in the megalopolis that I call home, it would be nice to not have the ruckus constantly follow you to the great outdoors.
We didn’t visit Welch Lake beach but for a quick walk to the area for a few pictures; it’s past season at this point, and I still have to do some fishing pole shopping. A quick 15 minute drive from Beaver Pond, is Bear Mountain State Park. Here you can find some of the Appalachian Trail, with various smaller trail heads for this historic (Revolutionary Times 1770s) part of the region including the one to Doodle Town. Long since the last resident left, the area is a ruins with markers showing where a house was, but most of the area has been taken back by nature leaving only a stone stair case here or a partial foundation wall there. It terminates at Iona Island Bird Sanctuary, a lovely long grassed marshland. The trails in the area are friendly to hikers, bikers, and the non arthritic kneers, as most are rated moderate to challenging. Don’t fret, trails that are rated easy and accessible to disabled are equally enjoyable and beautiful. They offer stunning views of the changing foliage, quick glances at the Hudson River and the rolling hills of the area. We didn’t take the Perkins Memorial Tower trail, but heard it was amazing. Next Time!!!
Went for a quick getaway to this little gem of a state park in the finger lakes region of New York. I’ll be coy, and use their slogan ‘Ithaca is Gorges’ and Gorgeous!!! The falls trails were all well defined and excellent for a beginner, moderate hiker. More advanced trails were also offered as well as biking trails, so plenty for any level of adventurer!! Lots of educational posters along the way to keep you informed of what you were seeing and the history about how it was created. The locals were pleasant, and eager to share fun facts about their area. We stayed at the campground in the park. It was cozy, clean, and just right for a little off the grid fun. No electricity or water hook ups available, but nice big public baths and plenty of water access all around the camp ground. (Say one water spot every 3-4 camp sites). There was also a dump station and trash dumpsters easily accessible at the entrance. Can not wait to go back, planning a week long trip next year and will do all three tours, wine, beer, and cheese!! Till next September!! Stay Gorges!!!